At its meeting today the European Central Bank decided to buy fewer bonds each month but for more months.
Monthly purchases will be cut to 30 billion euros ($35 billion) from 60 billion euros beginning in January. But the bank will extend its bond purchases until September. Some observers had through the central bank would end purchases in January or March.
The bank will also continue to buy bonds to replace those that have matured, unlike the Federal Reserve, which is cutting back on such replacement purchases in order to start a very gradual run down of its $450 billion portfolio of assets.
On today’s news the euro fell to $1.1653 against the U.S dollar from the close yesterday at $1.1813.
The pace of this policy suggests that the European Central Bank won’t begin to raise interest rates before 2019. That, again, is in contrast to the Federal Reserve, which began to raise interest rates in December 2016. (By the way, Mario Draghi’s term at the head of the bank ends in October 2019.)
The bank also continued to say that it sees inflation headed upwards. Sometime.
The bank’s inflation target is a rate of just below 2%. In August the EuroZone inflation rate climbed to 1.5% from an annual rate of 1.3% in July. The European Central Bank, however, then forecast that it expects inflation to pull back to a 0.9% annual rate in the first quarter of 2018.
The euro is up 12% against the dollar in 2017, but I’d expect the projected very leisurely pace at which the bank has decided to reduce its asset buying and the comparison of schedules for interest rates increases from the Fed and the ECB will put some downward pressure on the euro. And provide a continued boost for EuroZone exports. The SPDR Euro STOXX 50 ETF (FEZ), a member of my new Perfect Five ETF portfolio edged up 0.15% today on the news.
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